A Brakpan widow is seeking answers from local police following the death of her husband.
Natasha Darman (38), from Dalpark Six, claims the Brakpan SAPS has been keeping her in the dark after her husband Neil (42) was gunned down during the early hours of Easter Sunday.
No arrests have been made and the mother of two is questioning the circumstances surrounding Neil’s death and the Brakpan SAPS’ handling of the matter.
Neil (42) was fatally shot on April 1 at the Etosha Avenue home of a friend, a stone’s throw from his own home in Gamkarivier Crescent.
It has been alleged that Neil was an intruder on the property, but Natasha completely dismisses this and insists her husband was friends with the occupants of the house where the shooting occurred.
Natasha recalled she last saw her husband on the morning of March 31 as he left for work.
He had been in touch with several family members during the afternoon and was expected home later that day.
“I spoke to him at about 9.45pm and he told me had visited a friend in Actonville and was on his way home; I could hear him in the car,” said Natasha.
She went to bed at about 11.30pm and was awakened by bright lights at around 4am.
“There were two policemen who said they were looking for my husband,” Natasha said.
“I asked if there was a problem and they asked if he drove a blue kombi.
“I said yes and they told me they had found the kombi abandoned.
“They asked for a photo of Neil, which I provided, and I was then told they would come back to me.”
Natasha told the Herald it never crossed her mind that something terrible had happened to Neil.
“When I first saw the police, I thought maybe he had been arrested or something,” she said.
“After they left, I was still confident he was coming home.”
Natasha phoned her son Xavier (20) and informed him about the visit from police.
“I told him we should go find daddy,” she said.
“I got my baby up (Zion, aged 4), dressed him and when Xavier arrived, we got into the car.
“As we drove around the corner, we saw the kombi at Neil’s friend’s house. A police van was parked opposite the house, so we stopped”.
Natasha believes Neil stopped at the residence on his way home.
“After I spoke to him, he had stopped at a petrol station and was then heading home,” she said.
“He probably drove past the house and saw they were having a braai or something; my husband was a very social person who made friends easily,” she said.
After speaking to police on the scene, Natasha was told to take the kombi home and go to the Brakpan Police Station.
“There wasn’t the slightest indication that something so terrible had happened,” she said.
“I still thought we would find him at the police station.”
She explained that they arrived at the station and were told to wait.
They were then ushered into a room by a female officer.
“She was not answering any of my questions, but then told me to leave my four-year-old outside,” recalled Natasha.
The family was informed that Neil had been shot and killed.
“He was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the back,” said Natasha.
Everything that followed is a blur, but Natasha remembers being told to go the mortuary to identify Neil’s body.
This is where she found out that Neil had been declared dead by paramedics at 1.20am – hours before police first arrived on her doorstep.
She also learnt that he had only been wearing boxer shorts and tekkies when he was shot, which indicated to her that he had felt comfortable with the people in his company.
“There are just so many things I don’t understand and I have so many questions,” she said.
She is finding it difficult to accept that a culpable homicide docket, and not one for murder, is under investigation and wants to know why she wasn’t informed about Neil’s death sooner.
“Why did they tell me they were looking for him when they knew exactly where he was?” she asked.
“And why has no one been arrested?”
At the time of speaking to the Herald, more than a month had passed since Neil’s death and Natasha maintained she had not once been contacted by police regarding the case.
The situation has compounded her loss and Natasha is finding it difficult to cope – she has still not returned to the canteen in which she used to work with Neil.
Capt Pearl van Staad, spokesperson for the Brakpan police, stated that police have been in touch with Natasha (after the Herald brought the matter to their attention) and confirmed that a culpable homicide docket was opened.
No other comment was provided.